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I’ll admit that this year’s attempt at #DRAWLLOWEEN was a bit of a bust – I kept falling behind and ended up burning out around item 19. I’m just not great at deadlines, and 31 deadlines in a row is… well… beyond me.

But, Drawlloween, combined with the amazing work of Zak Smith on redrawing the 5e Monster Manual (link is NSFW) gave me the inspiration and the self-confidence to start on something I’ve been considering for a couple of years.

Annotating, editing, illuminating and otherwise hacking the classic AD&D1e core rule books.

Now, I’m not a 1e kind of guy, but there’s something about these three books that still hits me in the feels (I’ll admit it – I actively dislike playing 1e “by the book”). There’s something so lovingly Gygaxian about the tomes that I decided they were the ones I should be working with. I put out the call early last week looking for a set of the core rules with the interiors in good shape. Wayne’s Books stepped in with a full set – two with ratty covers and all three with nearly immaculate interiors.

They arrived a few days ago and I started working on them. My goal is to modify one page every day before bed. If I manage that rate of progress, it should take me about two years to complete the set.

To get the feel for what I would be doing, I started with a classic page in the Monster Manual – page 76, home of the orc.

Monster Manual - Page 76

Monster Manual – Page 76

I started by adding text to the entry, with a nod to my second AD&D1e Dungeon Master (the use of pickled orc brains to increase the duration of a wall of fire spell). Then getting more comfortable, I started doodling. A drew a few weapons, the sad orc, and then finally feeling comfortable, I added a bunch of tattoos to the Ogre Magi.

With that feeling of comfort firmly established, I moved on to the page I knew I would have fun with – page 70.

Monster Manual Pages 70-71

Monster Manual Pages 70-71

I mean, tentacles AND labyrinths? Could you ask for a better place for me to go hog-wild with my pen? My only regret about this page is I doubt the rest of the book has a chance to look quite this good when it is done. But we’ll see.

The reaction to this page on social media was quite remarkable, and combined with my own doubts on being able to follow through on a two-year project I decided that it would probably be best if I stick to one book at a time and do them in chronological order – so finish off the Monster Manual before starting on the Player’s Handbook and then finally tackling the magnum opus that is the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

So last night I went back to the Monster Manual and did another page:

Monster Manual - Page 7

Monster Manual – Page 7

The plan as it stands is to finish off every page of the Monster Manual, then cut off the binding and scan the whole thing so we’ll have a nice “clean” high-quality scan of the “Dyson Defaced” edition before hand-binding it back together and auctioning it off.